Takeda Pharmaceutical Co is expanding its presence in oncology by acquiring the USA’s IDM Pharma in a deal valued at $75 million, representing a premium of around 55% on the latter’s closing price on Friday.

The Japanese drugmaker is paying $2.64 per share in cash and in return is getting hold of IDM’s Mepact (mifamurtide). The therapy has just been approved in Europe for the treatment of non-metastatic osteosarcoma (malignant bone cancer) following surgical removal of the tumour.

Takeda notes that osteosarcoma is a rare and often fatal disease, with approximately 1,200 new cases diagnosed in Europe each year. It affects primarily children and young adults.

Erich Brunn, chief executive of Takeda Pharmaceuticals Europe, claimed that Mepact delivers “a demonstrated survival advantage for young patients” and provides the firm with “an approved therapy that contributes immediately to our top-line growth”. He added that Mepact “will become a key driver in enhancing our European oncology franchise."

IDM’s chief executive Timothy Walbert, noted that Mepact is the first new osteosarcoma treatment in more than 20 years. The European approval was based on Phase III studies involving 800 patients and showed that the addition of mifamurtide to three- or four-drug adjuvant chemotherapy (cisplatin, doxorubicin, and methotrexate with or without ifosfamide) resulted in a 30% decrease in the risk of death. Some 78% of patients survived after six years of follow-up after treatment with Mepact.

Takeda is looking to become a cancer powerhouse and last year completed its $8.8 billion acquisition of the USA’s Millennium Pharmaceuticals. As well as Velcade (bortezomib), the multiple myeloma blockbuster which is being tested in other indications, such as relapsed follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and front-line mantle cell lymphoma, Millennium also has 12 other drugs in development.